Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer Audemars Piguet has started 2024 on a high note, unveiling a new Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon limited edition, created in collaboration with Haute Couture designer Tamara Ralph. The timepiece draws inspiration from the designer’s aesthetics that blend bold femininity and boundless creativity with timeless elegance. The limited edition, crafted from 18 ct pink gold, shimmers with Frosted Gold. A distinct gradient of hues, ranging from brown and bronze to golden, accentuates the overall aesthetics.
The collaboration was revealed during Tamara Ralph’s runway show in Paris this week for the Spring/Summer 2024 Haute Couture Fashion Week. With this collaboration, Audemars Piguet strengthens its strong ties with the creative world while celebrating the natural synergies between Haute Horlogerie and Haute Couture. Speaking about the collaboration, Ilaria Resta, CEO, Audemars Piguet, said, “Tamara’s endless quest for perfection perfectly echoes our watchmakers’ dedication to pushing their craft to the limit. We are delighted to start 2024 in collaboration with such an inspiring woman and it is only the beginning!”
Audemars Piguet first collaborated with Tamara Ralph in 2020, pairing a host of its watches with her Spring/Summer 2021 Prêt-à-Porter collection. Continuing their enduring partnership, the two have now created the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon limited edition, inspired by Ralph’s couture universe. The latest collaboration showcases the two brands’ innovative approach to craftsmanship, their seamless blend of ancestral expertise with modern techniques as well as their distinctive creations that are both objets d’art and vectors of emotion.
Textures and Light
The stunning 18 ct pink gold case of the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon “Tamara Ralph” Limited Edition looks magical in Frosted Gold, an ancient Florentine jewellery technique that was revisited by jewellery designer Carolina Bucci and adapted by Audemars Piguet artisans in 2016 to decorate the Manufacture’s timepieces. Using a diamond-tipped tool, tiny indentations are created on the gold surface, creating in turn a sparkle effect similar to that of precious stones. The watch’s look is further enhanced by the polished bevel, outlining the octagonal bezel, while the case’s satin-brushed flanks provide added contrast. The result: an endless play of light through the juxtaposition of finishing techniques, a meticulous operation that required perfect alignment among the hammered, brushed and polished surfaces.
The 18 ct pink gold octagonal frame also holds the caseback’s glare-proof sapphire crystal in place, finished with satin brushing and polished chamfers, and engraved with “Royal Oak Concept Limited Edition”.
The hexagonal crown recalls the shape of the stainless steel screws punctuating the bezel; it also plays with light, thanks to its satin-brushed and polished finishing. Adding yet another feminine touch is the translucent cabochon-cut sapphire.
In an official statement, Tamara Ralph explained the intention behind the interplay between textures and colours. She said, “The complications of watchmaking orchestrate a foundation, which can be played with in terms of textures, colours, and designs, allowing for the savoir-faire of couture to shine through. Rich materials, unique colour palettes, and ultimate precision are combined, creating an exquisite limited edition of the Royal Oak Concept Flying Tourbillon, inspired by Haute Couture.”
A Perfect Harmony
Drawing inspiration from the bold femininity and textured detailing of Tamara Ralph’s couture creations, the multi-layered dial comprises four overlapping circular pink gold plates, creating a ripple effect, as they emanate from the flying tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock. The different colours in each layer evolve from brown in the centre to bronze in the middle, reaching golden tones towards the dial’s extremity. The brown and golden colours have been achieved through galvanic treatment and the bronze layer is covered with bronze lacquer. Sunburst satin finishes radiate outward from the hands on the dial, aligned seamlessly between the plates. The beauty of every plate is accentuated by a thin, diamond-polished gold thread that adds depth to the dial.
In keeping with the multi-layered architecture of the dial, the flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock marks a fusion of technical prowess with sophisticated aesthetics. The upper frame of the cage incorporates three rings radiating from a decentred disc, paved with 19 brilliant-cut diamonds (~ 0.04 carats). Its pink gold tone mirrors the 18-carat pink gold hour and minute hands, both filled with luminescent coating for optimum legibility in the dark. At 12 o’clock, the applied pink gold AP monogram completes the final touch. This dial design emphasises purity and harmony by eliminating hour markers.
The timepiece is equipped with the hand-wound Calibre 2964, combining tradition with modernity. The flying tourbillon at 6 o’clock provides a glimpse of the mechanism. This high-end complication counteracts the effects of gravity on a watch’s accuracy. In contrast to its tourbillon sibling, the flying tourbillon cage is only supported from below; so, the watch's beating heart remains unobscured.
The timepiece is presented on a bronze-toned, hand-stitched, “large square scale”, alligator strap. An additional brown alligator strap, recalling the centre of the dial for a refined look, also accompanies the watch. The two straps show off a pearly finishing.